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Review: Nature of the Beast (Lone Wolf Collective)

March 27th, 2015

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nature of the beast

Nature of the Beast, at the Storefront Theatre in Toronto, leaves audiences “unsettled and unsatisfied”

Nature of the Beast turns upon Francis (Nicholas Rice), a genial old stoner — think Bob Ross and his happy little trees — who lives in a tiny cottage up the ass-end of nowhere. He earns a little money selling wood carvings, and a lot of money as an unlikely dom, entertaining a parade of privileged city slickers who’d like to be whipped into shape in his basement.

All’s well until Francis’ teenaged nephew (Jakob Ehman) drops in suddenly and expects to stay: big argument at home, things that can’t be unsaid, and the kid’s got nowhere else to go.

But as Francis tries to balance these two worlds which can’t collide — the fragile high school student in the guestroom, the client (Clint Butler) chained to the wall in the basement — his life slowly begins to unravel, until playwright Brandon Crone finally reveals (here it comes, folks, I hope you’re ready) the Nature of the Beast.

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Review: The Gospel According to Mark (Soulpepper)

March 25th, 2015

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Soulpepper theatre in Toronto offers up a dramatic and intimate reading of a biblical tale

Gospel

I was a little nervous entering the Young Centre to see The Gospel According to Mark. While I had a high-church upbringing (two of my grandparents were Church of England ministers) it just never took, and it’s been years since I’ve been inside a church, weddings and funerals excepted.

But the marketing promised a “fresh, transcendent and thrillingly immediate” take on the story; Kenneth Welsh is as close to a rockstar as one gets in Canadian live theatre; and even Richard Dawkins thinks the King James Bible is a beautiful work of literature on its own merits, one of the most poetic and significant texts produced in the west. Surely it’s worth a shot?

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Cheap Theatre for the Week of March 24 2015

March 24th, 2015

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Live Shows for $25 or Less

This week’s selection of theatre on a budget will sure to illicit a few laughs out of you and quite possibly a lot more. Yes, it’s comedy but not just any comedy — for a few of these selected shows there’s a twisted and darker sided edge accompanying those chuckles. So if you enjoy your laughs with a sinister twist, I encourage you to keep reading and find something fun to see! (Plus one of these shows is a must-see for fans of the late great Terry Pratchett!)

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Review: Subway Stations Of The Cross (Soulpepper)

March 24th, 2015

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Soulpepper Theatre presents Ins Choi’s latest one-man show Subway Stations of the Cross in Toronto

Ins Choi, current Soulpepper Resident Artist who is well-known for his smash hit Kim’s Convenience, mounts this one man show as part of Soulpepper‘s Studio Series. In Subway Stations of the Cross, Choi plays the character of a proselytizing homeless man who lives in a subway station and spends his time expounding on Christian mythology, interspersed with nuggets from Greek and Roman mythologies and pop culture references. Read the rest of this entry »

Toronto Play Listings for the Week of March 23, 2015

March 23rd, 2015

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Shows that Caught our Eye this Week

It’s another week of great theatre here in Toronto with plenty to check out if you’re looking for something different to spice up your evening or weekend. I’ve indicated the shows I’d love to check out by marking them red and staring them with double asterisks. So have a look, see if there’s something that also catches your eye and go see some theatre!

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Review: The Daisy Theatre (Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes)

March 23rd, 2015

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The Daisy Theatre is Heartwarming and Enlightening

I had no idea what to expect when I sat down in The Factory Theatre’s studio theatre. All I really knew is that The Daisy Theatre was an adult puppet show. I couldn’t conceive of what a puppet show that had banished children would be like. When the show had finished and the audience rose in a standing ovation, I thought: Oh, that’s what they meant.

The Daisy Theatre is said to be different every time. Ronnie Burkett has an arsenal of puppets back stage, and he picks different ones for each performance, improvising dialogue and audience interaction. For the show I witnessed, most of the jokes were for the Toronto-centric crowd. They were jabs at our hipster urbanites, nods to our neighbourhoods, and inside-jokes about the city’s theatre community. It was absolutely fantastic. As someone who’s city-born and raised, I felt like I was part of this secret club, even though a nagging part in the back of my head reminded me that he probably did the same thing back in Calgary. I still couldn’t help but love the lie.

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Review: Bull (Coal Mine Theatre)

March 23rd, 2015

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Bull Coal Mine Theatre Damon Runyan

Coal Mine Theatre’s Bull is Chilling — You’ll Need a Drink

The gloves come off as three employees battle for two jobs at Toronto’s Coal Mine Theatre on the Danforth. This corporate horror called Bull will send shivers down your back: you’ll witness how the upcoming downsizing brings out the worst in two workplace bullies.

As we walk into this basement theatre (which is downstairs from The Magic Oven), we already know there won’t be much niceness to be observed: the angry music got me into fight-or-flight mode before the performance even started. To make the setting even darker, the arena-like theatre had us sitting in a U-shape around the stage, and with the mesh walls around it, the stage was like a ring. Perfect for bloody office combat. (While I didn’t mind the mesh, my guest found it a bit cumbersome to see through and questioned its necessity.)

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Review: A Woman is a Secret (Ripjaw Producions and The Storefront Theatre in association with Sidemart Theatrical Grocery)

March 23rd, 2015

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Photo of Martha Burns and Tony Nappo in A Woman is a Secret

A Woman is a Secret, at the Theatre Centre, is No-Strings-Attached Joy

All I knew about A Woman is a Secret before going in was that it was a world premiere and that it was written by John Patrick Shanley — who, despite an impressive body of work, is still probably best known for writing Moonstruck. It’s how I prefer to go into something if possible: no expectations.

I was first struck by the beautiful set as I walked into the space at the Theatre Centre. Once the piece started I was enveloped by the wonderful live music: musician Matthew Barber is on stage the whole time and provides an interlude between each vignette. Which brings me to my next bit of information: instead of being one long play, this is a series of mini-plays. Little snippets of life — or fantasy — played out for us in bite-sized pieces.

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Preview: The Panel Show Pilot (Presented by CBC Radio)

March 22nd, 2015

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Illustration of Ned Petrie by Jeff Blackburn for The Panel ShowYou know that exciting feeling of getting in on something on the ground floor? Well, this Monday night (March 23, 2014) you can have that by attending a live taping of the pilot of The Panel Show for CBC Radio Comedy at Bad Dog Theatre.

Now, just because it’s the pilot for radio doesn’t mean it’s a new show, just new to radio. In fact, Mooney on Theatre covered the very first The Panel Show back in 2011. That means they’ve been doing this now for four and a half years and it’s a well-oiled machine.

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Review: New Ideas Festival 2015 (Alumnae Theatre)

March 21st, 2015

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Image of New Ideas Festival at Alumnae Theatre 2015

This year the annual New Ideas Festival graces the Toronto stage for 27th time and still delivers

Recently I was fortunate enough to visit one of my favourite venues in Toronto – Alumnae Theatre – and finally saw a sure sign of spring: The annual New Ideas Festival. It’s as much reminder of spring and things just around the corner as the date on a calendar.

The New Ideas Festival is everything that is right about theatre. It’s also as exciting and optimistic as spring. Now in its 27th year, the festival fosters new ideas and theatre talent, inspiring actors, directors, playwrights, designers, technicians and, of course, audiences. This year more than 120 artists will stage 12 plays and present 3 readings over three weeks. Now this is the type of positive energy that means spring is in the air!

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